Is Reality TV Making Girls Mean?

Full of catfights and backstabbing, reality TV shows use personal drama to draw in viewers. But does this kind of programming have a "Mean Girls" effect on our daughters? According to the Girl Scouts, it just might. 


After polling over a thousand tween and teen girls, the Girl Scout Research Institute found that a majority of the girls think that reality show programs “reflect reality” and are “mainly real and unscripted.”


What impact does that belief have? A majority of respondents who regularly watch reality programming believe that gossiping, being catty, competing with girls and not trusting other females is and should be expected to be a part of their daily lives. Girls who didn’t watch reality programming were less likely to hold those views, the Scouts found.


Heavy reality show watchers “are more focused on the value of physical appearance,” the Girl Scouts said, adding that 72 percent of those girls spent “a lot of time” on their appearance (as opposed to 42 percent of non-reality show viewers) and 38 percent said a girl’s value is based on her appearance (compared to 28 percent of non-viewers).


“Our research indicates that regular reality TV viewers emphasize being mean and/or lying to get ahead,” the Scouts’ study said. “A higher percentage of these girls, as compared to their non-viewing counterparts claim that . . . ‘Being mean earns you more respect than being nice.’”


What do you think? Does reality programming impact the way you view the world?